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Kavya Sukumar/MEDILL

Salvador Cerna, Civil Rights of Immigrants chair, speaks in Pilsen where Gamaliel of Metro Chicago launched the "Dream for All" campaign.


Gamaliel of Metro Chicago calls for moratorium on deportations

by Kavya Sukumar
Feb 6, 2013

The faith-based organization, Gamaliel of Metro Chicago, has called for the decriminalization of immigration and a moratorium on deportations at a press conference Wednesday in Pilsen to kick off the “Dream for All” campaign for comprehensive immigration reform.

“We will no longer be content with political jargon, broken promises and shredded dreams,” said Salvador Cerna, Civil Rights of Immigrants Chair and president of the Pilsen Neighbors Community Council. “We demand that our legislators present immediately a fair, just, and final solution to the 11 million undocumented immigrants in our country with a clear path to citizenship.”

Gamaliel of Metro Chicago is an affiliate of Gamaliel, a faith-based organization, which according to their website, works to “empower ordinary people to effectively participate in the political, environmental, social and economic decisions affecting their lives.”

Jesus Garcia, Cook County Commissioner of 7th District, supported the organization’s call for a moratorium on deportation.

“We are urging President Obama and the Congress to guarantee a very reasonable and practical path to citizenship, not a long waiting period, not jumping through a whole set of hoops. That could potentially jeopardize potential legalization and {the} citizenship of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of undocumented people who are residing in the country,” Garcia said.

Apart from the moratorium on deportation, the organization also demands decriminalization of immigration and an expedited legalization process.

Rev. James E. Hunt, pastor of New Hope Christian Community Church, represented the faith aspect of the organization at the event.

“We have a constitution that talks about justice for all, not justice for a few. We are no longer going to stand for families to be separated, for young people not to have opportunity to achieve education. It is not fair, and it is not just, and God is a just God,” Hunt said.

Ashley Molina, 19, a student who benefitted from Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals also spoke at the event. She presented the case for people, like her parents, who are undocumented.

Molina came to the U.S. from Guatemala 12 years ago. DACA offers childhood arrivals like Molina the opportunity to defer for two years any legal proceeding against them.

Mario Cortes, an undocumented immigrant, appealed to the constituents’ sensibilities of the legislators. “I couldn’t vote because I don’t have any [social security number]. But if I could vote, I don’t have a doubt that I {would} want Barack Obama to be president,” Cortes said.

The “Dream for All” campaign was launched Wednesday in 27 cities across 17 states.

“We still see some vestiges of the suffering and the harm that [immigration policies] did {to} our community,” Garcia said. ”That is why putting forth a concrete proposal, and the particulars that have been outlined this morning, is the key to a successful and fair immigration reform.”